Chinese people are expected to send 550 billion short messages this year, doubling mobile phone operators' revenues to some US$6.7 billion.
China, home to the world's largest mobile phone market, has 100 million users who will double the number of short messages they send this year, according to the Ministry of Information Industry.
China Mobile, the country's largest mobile telecommunications operator, is expected to handle 350 billion short messages in 2004 compared to 170 billion in 2003.
China Unicom, the country's No.2 operator, has forecast it will carry 200 billion short messages, or four times as many as last year.
By 2006 mobile phone users are likely to send 1.4 trillion short messages, equivalent to US$17 billion in charges, the report said.
Mobile phone users currently pay operators 0.1 yuan (US$0.01) to 0.15 yuan for each message sent.
Online operators like Netease are also trying to enter or build up their presence in the lucrative business.
(Shenzhen Daily August 13, 2004)